Why is it that so often we can’t take a compliment? To be told we look fabulous or that some achievement, however small, hasn’t gone unnoticed can make such a difference to how we see ourselves, yet how many of us fail to recognise the remarkable power of a compliment? And more to the point, how many of us actually accept a compliment and run with it?
By nature we tend to concentrate on our flaws rather than the things about us that are good. How often do we unexpectedly catch sight of ourselves and immediately home in on imagined imperfections that in all likelihood simply don’t exist? There’s an irony too in that we easily see beauty in others yet somehow this seems to make us question our own, and if someone does pay a compliment we instantly direct them to the parts of ourselves that make us unhappy. It all comes down to how we see ourselves – and we never quite see the best.
Putting any inherent characteristics aside, I think it comes down to a societal mindset, to being women in a world that still seems to objectify and underestimate our capabilities. In turn this creates a natural inclination towards the negative rather than the positive. Of course we can put on a new dress, new shoes, have perfect makeup and feel great – and this is a good thing if it’s on our terms and our style – but if we can ignore the media-defined ideals of beauty and embrace our own, identify ourselves in ways other than how we look, I think that this is when we truly start to appreciate our own value.
We also need to stop apologising for ourselves – something that at one point or another every single one of us does. Our flaws and our limitations are part of the beauty that makes us who we are as individuals. Understanding and accepting them is what makes us attractive. And what’s key here is a connection between mind and body. If we feel comfortable in our own skin, we start to appreciate who we are as well as how we feel about ourselves. There’s a great quote: ‘No one is you and that is your power.’ So true and yet we seldom see it.
Knowing our self-worth isn’t easy when we lean towards modesty and self-deprecation far more than we do self-love but, as obvious as it sounds, self-love is exactly what it’s all about. We just need to shift our perspective a little. Trying to be who we want to be rather than who we actually are is what holds us back. We are unique and learning to love our individuality is empowering. In turn, valuing ourselves allows us the generosity to empower others with a compliment.So it seems to me that – despite how readily we are able to compliment others – it’s not until we acknowledge our own beauty, inside and out, that we can actually accept a compliment ourselves. Confidence is compelling and it’s infectious. Smile at a stranger and they will smile back. Tell someone how much they make you laugh and they will feel as if they’ve missed their calling as a stand-up comic. We just need to learn to smile at ourselves once in a while and take those compliments when they come along because, ultimately, we are worth so much more than we ever think we are.